By Danny O’Neil
“Person of Interest” is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent. This week, it’s St. Louis’ Tavon Austin.
Tavon Austin was the eighth overall pick this year and the first receiver taken. (AP)
• Position: Rams’ new toy, still in original packaging
• Height: 5-8
• Weight: 176
• Age: 22
• Experience: Rookie season.
Austin was the fastest player at the NFL’s annual scouting combine, and it was St. Louis’ belief he could improve their offense. Quickly. That’s the reason the Rams traded up in the first round, giving up their second-round pick to move up from No. 16 to No. 8 to select Austin and give quarterback Sam Bradford a home-run threat.
Well, the player who was supposed to help St. Louis take that next step is who best explains why the Rams ended up taking a step back. Austin has caught 29 passes, which not only leads his team, but is the most among all rookies.
However, he’s averaging 6.8 yards on those receptions, which would be great if we’re talking about rushing but is positively pedestrian in terms of passing. Austin hasn’t caught a pass of more than 25 yards and has scored two touchdowns. All that was before Bradford was hurt, suffering a season-ending knee injury and leaving Kellen Clemens in charge of the offense.
The Rams’ offense has kept this team from taking the next step as only the Bucs and Jags are averaging fewer yards per game than St. Louis, which is 0-4 when it scores fewer than 25 points. But the best example of St. Louis’ struggles on offense is the unfulfilled potential of Austin.
He has been so underused that he was on the field for three offensive plays – yep, just three – in the team’s victory over Houston.